EU food safety experts have postponed a vote on whether to allow imports of a genetically modified (GMO) maize made by Monsanto pending further scientific data, officials said on Tuesday. The herbicide-resistant maize, known as GA21, is designed for use as an ingredient in food processing, not for growing. If approved, it would be imported as a finished product.

"There was a committee meeting and GA21 maize was discussed, but there was no vote. It will be at one of the next meetings, and the provisional date for the next one is March 29," an official at the European Commission told Reuters.

"There was a demand for supplementary information so that's why it (the vote) has been postponed," he said.

Monsanto applied for EU approval under a law covering food products and ingredients derived from GMOs such as flour, starch or oil from a GMO maize, paste or ketchup from a GMO tomato. Only products deemed safe for human consumption may be marketed.

The EU remains as divided as ever over biotech foods, which are shunned by an overwhelming number of European consumers.

Since November 2003, the Commission has asked EU states nine times to vote on authorising a GMO food or feed product. In eight cases, there was no agreement and in the ninth, the deadlock around the table resulted in the vote being postponed.

But the EU has not yet touched the more contentious issue of allowing new GMO crops to be planted in Europe's fields -- the test of whether the bloc's biotech ban is really over -- and just a handful of GMO crops have won EU approval for growing.

Source: Yahoo News